People praying at the Western Wall

Israel shelves plan for Western Wall egalitarian plaza

Prime minister and Religious Affairs Minister consider scrapping plans for open plaza for Reform, Conservative prayer, fearing Ultra-Orthodox violence, 'right-wing incitement against gov't'

i24NEWS |
Updated: 12.12.21, 13:10
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana froze plans to implement a so-called Western Wall compromise deal that would accommodate mixed-gender prayer at the holy site in Jerusalem.
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  • The compromise - long debated in Israel’s previous government and Diaspora Jewry - seeks to create a pluralistic prayer pavilion at the site, to be under the oversight of representatives of non-Orthodox streams of Judaism.
    3 View gallery
    הכותל המערבי
    הכותל המערבי
    People praying at the Western Wall
    (Photo: Ido Erez)
    The arrangement, negotiated for over three years, was approved in 2016 but suspended by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu the following year, due to pressure from his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners.
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    ח"כ מתן כהנא
    ח"כ מתן כהנא
    Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana
    (Photo: Kobi Koaneks)
    On Sunday, Bennett and Kahana reportedly delayed the plan again and suspend it altogether, despite Kahana's vocal approval of the plan back in 2017.
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    מאות משתתפים בהפגנות סביב התפילה המסורתית החודשית שמקיימות במקום נשות הכותל
    מאות משתתפים בהפגנות סביב התפילה המסורתית החודשית שמקיימות במקום נשות הכותל
    Haredis clashing with police at the Western Wall during a demonstration against a reform group called "Women of the Western Wall"
    (Photo: TPS)
    Reasons for the decisions include recent violence at the Western Wall between ultra-Orthodox protesters and liberal Jewish groups, as well as efforts by the right-wing to use the compromise to fuel incitement against the government.
    The Western Wall compromise has become a focus for incitement and hatred,” Kahana said over the weekend. “We cannot play into their hands. We’re freezing everything at the moment. We’re not touching it. We cannot be a source of conflict,” the minister said.
    First published: 13:08, 12.12.21
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